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Information Overload. An International Challenge for Professional Engineers and Technical Communicators. IEEE PCS Professional Engineering Communication Series - Product Image

Information Overload. An International Challenge for Professional Engineers and Technical Communicators. IEEE PCS Professional Engineering Communication Series

  • ID: 2176783
  • November 2012
  • Region: Global
  • 320 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd

A unique approach to information overload, combining theory and practical solutions

Written and edited by an international group of experts from academia and industry, Information Overload clearly links academic theory to real-world practice, providing a truly global and interdisciplinary treatment of this important topic.

Emphasizing the role of engineers and technical communicators, the book discusses the root causes and costs of information overload within organizations and introduces strategies and proven techniques for reducing information overload and minimizing its negative impact. It offers a theoretical framework and ideas for future research, and features special chapter 'insight boxes' that recount different approaches to problems from various multinational corporations.

Information Overload:
- Focuses on key definitions and challenges of information overload for both communicators and organizations
- Details a variety of technical and human-centered strategies for addressing the deluge of data
- Presents effective solutions tried at IBM, Xerox, and Harris Corporation
- Examines the effects of culture as well as that of color, visual form, text, and end-user documentation
- Offers an engineering perspective on the technologies available for dealing with information overload

Information Overload also serves as a first-rate survival manual for researchers in academia, practicing engineers, technical communicators, and managers and professionals at all levels of profit and nonprofit organizations.

List of Practical Insights from Corporations xv

List of Figures xvii

List of Tables xix

Foreword xxi

Preface xxvii

Acknowledgments xxix

A Note from the Series Editor xxxi

Contributors xxxiii

About the Editors xxxvii

1 INFORMATION OVERLOAD: AN INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE TO PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AND TECHNICAL COMMUNICATORS 1
Judith B. Strother, Jan M. Ulijn, and Zohra Fazal

1.1 Definitions, Causes, and Consequences of Information Overload 1

1.1.1 Definitions of Information Overload 1

1.1.2 Causes of Information Overload 2

1.1.3 Consequences of Information Overload 3

1.2 Perspectives on the Concept of Information Overload 4

1.2.1 An Information and Time-Management Perspective 5

1.2.2 A Supplier/Producer/Writer and Client/User/Reader Perspective 5

1.2.3 An International/Intercultural Perspective 7

1.2.4 An Innovation Perspective 7

1.3 Readers of this Book 7

1.4 Structure of this Book 8

1.4.1 Section I: Causes and Costs of Information Overload 8

1.4.2 Section II: Control and Reduction of Information Overload 10

References 11

SECTION I. CAUSES AND COSTS OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD

2 OF TIME MAGAZINE, 24/7 MEDIA, AND DATA DELUGE: THE EVOLUTION OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD THEORIES AND CONCEPTS 15
Debashis “Deb” Aikat and David Remund

2.1 Introduction 16

2.2 Theory and Concept of Information Overload 16

2.3 Information Overload as a Twentieth Century Phenomenon 17

2.4 Evolution of Information and Its Proliferation in Society 21

2.4.1 The Early Quest for Information and Knowledge (320 BCE–Thirteenth Century) 21

2.4.2 The Age of Renaissance (Fourteenth–Seventeenth Century) and the Printing Press 22

2.4.3 The Industrial Revolution (Eighteenth–Nineteenth Century) and Its Information Innovations 23

2.4.4 The Era of the Mind and the Machine (Twentieth Century) 24

2.4.5 Internet Boom and Information Explosion of the 1990s 27

2.4.6 Data Deluge and Information Overload in the Twenty-First Century Digital Age 28

2.5 Information Overload Concepts 29

2.5.1 Definitions of Information Overload and Related Concepts 29

2.5.2 The Context of Information Overload 30

2.5.3 Causes and Consequences of Information Overload 31

2.6 Conclusion and Four Lessons Learned 32

Acknowledgment 33

References 33

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM IBM 39

3 THE CHALLENGE OF INFORMATION BALANCE IN THE AGE OF AFFLUENT COMMUNICATION 41
Paulus Hubert Vossen

3.1 Introduction 42

3.2 Quantitative Aspects of Information Overload 43

3.3 Qualitative Aspects of Information Overload 45

3.3.1 Philosophical Perspective: Information in Science and Technology 45

3.3.2 Political Perspective: Information in Modern Society and a Global World 46

3.3.3 Economic Perspective: Information as a Commodity on the Market 47

3.3.4 Societal Perspective: Information as the Glue Between Communities 48

3.3.5 Psychological Perspective: Information as a Basis for Knowing and Acting 49

3.3.6 Ecological Perspective: Information as a Prerequisite for Living Creatures 50

3.4 Conclusion 51

3.5 A Call for Fundamental Research 52

References 53

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM XEROX 55

Xerox Takes on Information Overload 55

Identifying the Problem 55

Sharing Information 56

Sorting Information 57

Cutting Through the Clutter 57

Life-Saving Software 58

Urban Central Nervous System 58

4 FROM CAVE WALL TO TWITTER: ENGINEERS AND TECHNICAL COMMUNICATORS AS INFORMATION SHAMAN FOR DIGITAL TRIBES 61
Anne Caborn and Cary L. Cooper

4.1 Introduction: The Dawn of the Information Shaman 62

4.2 The Magic of Metaphor 64

4.3 The Audience: The Emergence of Digital Tribes 65

4.4 Quill to Keyboard: The Writer and New Media 66

4.5 Helping the Reader: Techniques for the Information Shaman 68

4.6 The Magic of Hypertext Techniques: Journeys at the Speed of Thought 70

4.7 Conclusion: The Responsibilities of the Information Shaman 72

References 73

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM THE LIMBURG MEDIA GROUP 75

Newspaper Position in The Netherlands 76

Managing Information Overload Using an Evolutionary Approach 76

A Revolutionary Perspective 77

5 THE INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON INFORMATION OVERLOAD 79
Jan M. Ulijn and Judith B. Strother

5.1 Introduction 80

5.2 Levels of Culture 81

5.3 Cultural Patterns of Discourse Organization 82

5.4 High Context Versus Low Context 83

5.5 Internationalization Versus Localization 85

5.5.1 Latin America 86

5.5.2 Japan 87

5.5.3 China 87

5.6 The Effect of Professional Culture 88

5.7 Japan and U.S. Discourse Structures 91

5.8 Cultural Issues in Reader Versus Writer Responsibility 92

5.9 Implications for Engineers and Technical Communicators and Their Corporations 93

5.10 Conclusion 95

References 95

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM A2Z GLOBAL LANGUAGES 99

6 EFFECT OF COLOR, VISUAL FORM, AND TEXTUAL INFORMATION ON INFORMATION OVERLOAD 103
No€el T. Alton and Alan Manning

6.1 Introduction 104

6.2 Previous Studies of Decorative and Indicative Effects 106

6.3 Experiments and Results 111

6.3.1 Study One: Restaurant Menu Design 112

6.3.2 Study Two: Graph Design and Recall Accuracy 114

6.3.3 Study Three: Diagram Design and Recall Accuracy 116

6.4 Practical Implications for Engineers and Technical Communicators 117

6.5 Conclusion 119

References 121

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM APPLIED GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES 123

7 COST OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD IN END-USER DOCUMENTATION 125
Prasanna Bidkar

7.1 Introduction 126

7.2 Information Overload 126

7.3 Causes of Information Overload 128

7.4 Sources of Noise in User Documentation 129

7.4.1 Information Content 129

7.4.2 Channel 130

7.4.3 Receiver 131

7.5 Effects of Information Overload on Users 132

7.6 The Current Study 133

7.6.1 The Survey 133

7.6.2 Results and Observations 133

7.7 Cost of Information Overload 135

7.7.1 Cost Framework 135

7.7.2 Scenario 1: Ideal Scenario 136

7.7.3 Scenario 2 136

7.7.4 Scenario 3 136

7.7.5 Scenario 4 136

7.7.6 An Example from the User’s Perspective: Denim Corp 137

7.7.7 An Example from the Producer’s Perspective: Logistics Corp 137

7.8 Conclusion 138

References 139

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM HARRIS CORPORATION 141

Sources of Information Overload 141

Strategies for Dealing with Information Overload 142

SECTION II. CONTROL AND REDUCTION OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE

8 TAMING THE TERABYTES: A HUMAN-CENTERED APPROACH TO SURVIVING THE INFORMATION DELUGE 147
Eduard Hoenkamp

8.1 Introduction 148

8.2 Reducing Information Overload by Being Precise About What We Ask for 150

8.2.1 Conversational Query Elaboration to Discover Support Groups 150

8.2.2 Constructing Verbose Queries Automatically During a Presentation 151

8.3 Steering Clear of Information Glut Through Live Visual Feedback 152

8.4 Improving Search Engines by Making Them Human Centered 156

8.4.1 Case 1: The Basic Level Category 158

8.4.2 Case 2: The Complex Nominal 162

8.4.3 Case 3: Exploiting Natural Language Properties 165

8.5 Conclusion 167

Acknowledgments 167

References 168

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM THE LABORATORY FOR QUALITY SOFTWARE 171

References 173

9 TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEALING WITH INFORMATION OVERLOAD: AN ENGINEER’S POINT OF VIEW 175
Toon Calders, George H. L. Fletcher, Faisal Kamiran, and Mykola Pechenizkiy

9.1 Introduction 176

9.2 Information Overload: Challenges and Opportunities 177

9.3 Storing and Querying Semistructured Data 179

9.3.1 XML as a Data Format for Semistructured Data 180

9.3.2 RDF as a Data Format for Semistructured Data 181

9.3.3 Remarks on the Use of XML and RDF 183

9.4 Techniques for Retrieving Information 183

9.5 Mining Large Databases for Extracting Information 187

9.6 Processing Data Streams 190

9.7 Summary 190

References 191

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM THE COLLEGE OF AERONAUTICS, FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 195

From Data to Information to Situational Awareness to Decisions 196

Transformative Airspace Architecture 197

Robust, Agile, and Intelligently Responsive Information-Sharing Architecture 197

Next Generation Efforts to Manage Information 198

Distributed Decision Making 199

System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) 200

Shared Situation Awareness and Collaborative Decision Making 201

Automation and Information in the NAS 201

Summary 201

References 202

10 VISUALIZING INSTEAD OF OVERLOADING: EXPLORING THE PROMISE AND PROBLEMS OF VISUAL COMMUNICATION TO REDUCE INFORMATION OVERLOAD 203
Jeanne Mengis and Martin J. Eppler

10.1 The Qualitative Side of Information Overload 204

10.2 Causes of Information Overload 206

10.3 How Information Visualization Can Improve the Quality of Information and Reduce Information Overload 208

10.4 Using Visualization in Practice: Understanding the Knowing–Doing Gap 209

10.5 Methods and Context of the Study 211

10.5.1 Measures 211

10.5.2 Procedure and Analysis 213

10.6 Indications of the Knowing–Doing Gap: Visuals Are Valued, but Poorly Used 214

10.7 Understanding the Knowing–Doing Gap with TAM 214

10.8 Discussion 216

10.9 Conclusion 217

10.10 Future Research Directions 218

10A.1 Appendix 219

References 222

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM ALVOGEN 227

The Challenges of Information Overload 227

Strategies for Dealing with Information Overload 228

11 DROWNING IN DATA: A REVIEWOF INFORMATION OVERLOAD WITHIN ORGANIZATIONS AND THE VIABILITY OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION PRINCIPLES 231
David Remund and Debashis “Deb” Aikat

11.1 Introduction 232

11.2 Defining Information Overload within Organizations 232

11.3 Evolution of the Information Overload Concept in Organizations 234

11.4 Implications of Information Overload within Organizations 235

11.4.1 Organizational Implications 235

11.4.2 Employee Implications 237

11.5 Traditional Strategies for Addressing Information Overload 238

11.5.1 Organizational Strategies 238

11.5.2 Individual Strategies 239

11.6 Strategic Communication Principles: A Viable Solution? 240

11.7 Putting Strategic Communication into Practice 242

11.8 Further Research 243

11.9 Conclusion 243

References 243

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS FROM THE DUTCH EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATION 247

Acting as an Information Resource 248

Focusing on the Added Value of Information 248

Co-Creating Added Value in Interaction with Companies 249

A Final Observation 250

References 250

12 BLINDFOLDED THROUGH THE INFORMATION HURRICANE? A REVIEW OF A MANAGER’S STRATEGY TO COPE WITH THE INFORMATION PARADOX 251
Arjen Verhoeff

12.1 Introduction 252

12.2 Decomposing the Information Paradox 253

12.2.1 The Control of the Internal Information Process 253

12.2.2 The Control of the External Information Process 254

12.3 A Framework to Analyze the Information Paradox 255

12.3.1 Do Managers Experience Issues Regarding Information? 257

12.3.2 Do Managers Use an Information Strategy? 257

12.3.3 Do Managers Use a Strategy to Transform Information into Added Value? 257

12.4 Illustrating the Framework with Some Dutch Empirical Evidence 258

12.4.1 The Importance of an Information Strategy 258

12.4.2 Preliminary Survey Among Dutch Managers 259

12.5 Discussion and Conclusion: Lessons in Information Strategy 260

12.5.1 Discussion 260

12.5.2 Methodological Grounding 261

12.5.3 Learning Points 261

12.5.4 Applied Innovative Directions 262

12.5.5 Toward an Innovative Research Agenda 264

12.5.6 General Conclusion 264

References 265

List of References for Boxed Quotations 267

Author Index 269

Subject Index 275

JUDITH B. STROTHER, PhD, is Chair of the Graduate Program in Global Strategic Communication and Professor of Communication at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She has written three books and several book chapters, in addition to journal articles and conference proceedings.

JAN M. ULIJN, PhD, is an early emeritus of the endowed Jean Monnet Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Culture at Eindhoven University of Technology, and currently Professor of the Open University School of Management in the Netherlands. He has written numerous journal articles and book chapters and has authored or edited several books.

ZOHRA FAZAL is Instructor of Humanities and Communication and a founding member of the Center for Communication Excellence at Florida Institute of Technology. She is currently pursuing her PhD in science education.

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